People, Places, Moments and Music

http://compassioninpolitics.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/nashville-live-music.jpg?w=300&h=190Couple of days back I was strumming my acoustic just how I usually do on a lazy evening to relax myself. I was playing a random chord progression when suddenly in all randomness it started sounding very familiar. Even though I could not pin on the particular song that the rhythm was of, I kept feeling a place in my mind. I continued to repeat the strumming until I could remember the song but I kept remembering a place and moment instead. It was a fine evening lit up brightly by the street lights along the bay of the Singapore river. Then it hit me, the song that was coming back to me, “Ache” by James Carrington.

It’s quite amazing how you could feel a place, a person or some moment so strongly from a song. Some songs that capture you when you listen to them, bind together with your environment, the people around you and that moment when you listened to the song. How you felt when you first listened to that song, blue or euphoric you will always feel again when ever you listen again. Then again this does not seem to happen with every song. It takes the one that knock you off your socks. When I first heard “Ache” by James Carrington, I had just downloaded the song when I was in Singapore and I put on my headset while taking a walk down the street. Still remember that moment every single time I listen to this song.

Another strong moment of a song was “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles. I was on a plan to San Diago and was listening to the on flight XM radio. As the flight was on its final descend on a bright and clear afternoon, the song started playing as I stared through the little excuse of a window at the lazy San Diago. Every time I listen to the song I could feel that moment just like I could feel my friends around when I listen to “Say When” by Fray and just like I could feel the chilling water of Belihul Oya bounce of my toes when I listen to “Melt my heart to stone” by Adele and just like I can feel my girl right next to me when I listen to “Day Light” by Maroon 5.

Picture Credit – http://compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/best-places-to-see-live-music-in-nashville/

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Do your Time Machine backups really work?

The real time machine!As a Apple fanboy I have been one to explore and make use of most of the features apple products have to provide. Specifically this time I am talking about Time Machine on my MacBook Pro. A little experience I had over the weekend trying to get Lion (Apparently the most advanced desktop OS in the world… Will talk about this sometime later) on to my MBP.

First to my rant on installing Lion. So I download the whole 3.66GB over couple of days through Mac app store and then happily clicked open the install to realize that I was one of the dishonorable one’s who had to re-partition the disk to be able to get the glorious Lion on! I had Master Boot Record partitions on my disk and for OSX to install it requires a GUID partition table. So guess what.. now I have to get the whole 500GB HDD emptied out, then just change the partiton scheme, then get all the data back on and then install lion! Didn’t sound the least bit fun, but I had to pledge my loyalty to Apple (not really… Just being a geeky hipster). But I had Time Machine with me, why did I have to worry?? you’re soon gonna find out.

I have been using Time Machine to backup couple of my drives since the beginning. So I didn’t have to worry about the “important” stuff which is already backed up. So I went ahead and backed up the other data on to another HDD I had and I was all set. Ran another Time Machine backup for one last time and then went ahead with the repartitioning. So I had to boot from Snow Leopard on the disk so I can erase all my partitions to create the same set of partitions on GUID scheme. Once done, went right into “Restore from Time Machine backup” to get my “important” stuff back into the drive. The restore started as I sat there experiencing the time travelling magic. After sometime I realized that I was stuck in time (so to speak). The restore had frozen and did not progress any further. Waited for ages with no progress and tried many times with absolutely no luck. Clearly I was in a panik state and felt like I had lost my identity. While I was behaving like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I dugg deeper to find out that my Time Machine HDD had errors on the directory structure making some parts of the data unreadable. Disk Utility could not repair the errors. So I went to the Mac disk guru Disk Warrior which managed to recover most of my data from the Time Machine backup. Went through few more hoops before I could get back to Snow Leopard to the state where I exactly was. Then installed Lion which actually took only 30 mins. So the whole disaster had cost me a whole weekend, loss of many hours of sleep, a panic attack, loss of data which I feel every now and then and a blog post.

Now the funny part is I had been backing up on Time Machine for 2 years without realizing that my disk was actually broken. And this came to my attention at the worst possible time! You would think that an advanced tool like Time Machine would make sure your backup disk is intact when making a backup, but clearly it doesn’t. This I feel is a important feature that Apple needs to include in Time Machine. To my dismay I found quite a few users who had disk problems on their Time Machine backup disk during my research in getting out of this mess. I would urge all Time  Machine users to make sure to run a Verification with Disk Utility every time you run a backup. I know I will :-/

All in all even having gone through all this I still feel that Time Machine is a wonderful service to have on your Mac. Even having gone through all the trouble I was still able to get my MBP right back to where it was only because of Time Machine.

Image from : http://murphymac.com/time-machine-some-details/

Banking with HSBC (Sri Lanka)

Writing about my banking matters on a publicly read blog may not sound like the greatest idea but still I felt I had to share this. Not to sound a HSBC fanboy, but they are by far the best banking experience I have had. This may be something specific to me and HSBC due to my requirements and interests when it comes to banking.

I used to bank with a series of local banks since the time I had any actual banking requirements. About several years back I started out with some services at HSBC due to a offer as I remember. Eventually I dropped off all dealings with other banks and stuck to HSBC on all my personal banking. Until the day I would have walked into a bank facility to get something done not more than ten times. Everything else just gets done between credit cards/ATM/Phone and Online banking. This clearly says something.

HSBC as I know it, had the focus (at least in Sri Lanka) of minimizing the cost on resources and automating as many services as possible. I think they have been very successful at not only achieving this focus but also growing their trust and quality in their services. This works perfectly well for a person like me. I like to get things done from where I am than having to go around all day long (on second thought thats something anyone would like). So online banking is my holy grail of all financial matters. From managing accounts, credit cards, loans, transfers to paying utility bills and anything else you can think of, all controlled from one screen. Anything beyond that mostly gets done through a phone call.

One of the important factors in any business is customer care. This is handled well at HSBC may it be in facility or over the phone. I never feel that I have to wast my time to get something done, mostly because of the way I am treated. I dont want to get started on all the offers and facilities that are provided with banking and credit cards. Its something definitely worth looking at if you are in Sri Lanka. There is also something new coming up every now and then that you can benefit out of.

If you were looking for the part where I share the details of my bank accounts and pin numbers, you are out of luck. All in all for me things just get done with HSBC and isn’t that what we all need. HSBC – Thanks for everything so far and dont screw up in future as well! 🙂

Image from: The Sunday Morning Herald

iPhone 4 in Malaysia

I’m glad I got the time to write a post after such a long time. It’s been very hectic since I got back from holiday. There was so many little things I wanted to blog about but never got the chance. However this is something I definitely want to share.

So we were at the Aviary at KL enjoying the wonderful collection of birds (not something you wanna miss if you go to KL) and one of my friends who had gone shopping in KL rings me up and gives me a shocking news. He is standing at a electronic store holding on to a iPhone 4 which is priced at RM 1100.00 (approx. USD350). Now I know this doesn’t sound right but at the meantime part of me wants to believe it is real. So I go on about inquiring further about the device to confirm the validity. As he speaks the form-factor, the behavior, applications and everything else seem to fit the criteria of a iPhone 4. So I had to see this. We decided to head there right after the Aviary.

So once we got out of the aviary we headed straight to the mall Kota Raya. On they way we were discussing of how many phones we should be buying and how we should be distributing them once we are back home. So we get to the mall which is a fairly cheap looking one filled with tiny kiosks selling only phones. So our friend takes us to the specific kiosk where there are plenty of phone on display and there it was the iPhone 4. Looked perfect, the exact form-factor, had the “Designed in California” print on it, had all the default iPhone apps, all working fine. Behavior looks normal and I was getting excited by the minute. I went on checking, except for the font being different I honestly couldn’t see any difference. The guy at the store confirmed that it was a original iPhone 4 more than once. So I was ready to buy 5 pieces for me and my friends and we wanted to pay by credit card.

While the guy was trying to figure out how to charge us since he didn’t have the credit card facility, and the meantime I wanted to check the firmware version of the iPhone. So I went into the “Settings” and then “General” and was looking for the “About” section and it didn’t seem to be there. I looked again wondering I was looking in the wrong place and no it wasn’t there. Then I went into the “App Store” app to see if that works and it didn’t, it loaded something else. All my excitement turned off like a spill of water in the fireplace. The store guy was trying to convince me saying that was because I didn’t have wifi on. But he was done fooling me by now cos I started to see the rest of the discrepancies. The icons inside the settings section were different and the screen was clearly not a Retina Display. The sim holder was very visible to the eye unlike in a real iPhone 4. So when I told the store guy that I was not going to buy it cos it particularly didn’t look legitimate, the guy almost started a fight with me making it a scene 😀

However all these added up to just one thing. We were on a wild goose chase! It should have been pretty obvious when it was too good to be true. A iPhone 4 cannot be probably even made for USD400. I kept wondering how many of the tourists may be getting played by this everyday. Later when I got back to the room I googled “iPhone 4 copy” and found tons of explanations and links of fake and copy products for much cheaper prices. There was even one saying “Why pay more when you can by for $85”.

Conclusion: When you are buying something for a unbelievably low price (not just iPhones) think twice.

Multitasking on iOS4 – iPhone

[tweetmeme source=”@hiraash” only_single=false]I was just too excited when the iOS4 was out, not just because of all the features but because the iphone dev team released the unlock for baseband 5.12.x. Yes I had upgraded my baseband by mistake during the firmware upgrade of 3.1.3 and lost my unlock. I was using a iPod out of my iPhone 3G for months. Since in this part of the world we wont have the luxury of getting a iPhone 4 for sometime, I’m going to have to use the 3G with iOS4 on it.  So I had to jailbreak it before I can get the unlock and features like multitasking.

So one of the most desired and spoken feature of the iOS4 is multitasking. I have always wanted to have proper multitasking on the iPhone since I was used to Windows Mobile Phones that already had it. When I first started using the iOS4 and the multitasking feature, it turned out to be a sheer disappointment.

Why?

  1. When it comes to multitasking the first thing you would expect is to be able to tell the app to close or keep running in the background when you exit it. Apple seemed have completely missed this part.
  2. First when I tried it, every time I exit a app it seemed to show up in the open app list that comes up at the bottom on the double tap of the home button. But when I go back into a 3rd party app, it seemed to start over again losing its previous state. Yes the app actually needs to support multitasking before it could be used with the iOS4 multitasking feature. So this means I have to wait for all my app vendors to give me an update.
  3. After using the phone for sometime, since I open a bunch of apps, they all show up in the opened app list creating a clutter in the view. Now I have to scroll around to find that app I need to switch to. This actually will be solved if problem 1 was solved.
  4. I really expected they would build it in such way that I could scroll through the running apps just like you would scroll through the open pages of iPhone safari browser. I guess this was just personal 🙂Safari multi page view

Even-though I was disappointed, I have to say, having some level of multitasking on the iPhone is really cool. It helps when using with the native iPhone apps. Eventually when 3rd party app vendors start updating their apps, multitasking may become much more useful.

Sharpening the Pencil

Here it goes. My first post on my personal blog.

I have never quite been the writer, but always have wanted to tell the world about the little things that happen around me. Things that fascinate and excite me, things that I feel I want to share. Like for most people they go unspoken because of one crazy word that rules all of us, “busy” :). So here I am for once trying to do this, put my thoughts out there. It may be technical or non technical, I intend to write all about it. Hope I can hold up for sometime 🙂

See you soon!